Rocky Johnson, the former professional wrestler and father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, passed away on Wednesday. He was 75 years old. The cause of death is unknown.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky 'Soul Man' Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer and former World Tag Team Champion, has passed away at age 75," the WWE said in a statement Wednesday.
According to the press release, Johnson's wrestling career began in the mid-1960s as part of the National Wrestling Alliance. He later joined the WWE in 1983, which is where his most success was achieved.
"Rest In Peace, 'Soul man' Rocky Johnson," one user wrote on Twitter. "You broke down so many barriers for black wrestlers, most wouldn't be in the industry if it wasn't for you paving the way for them. My condolences to The Rock and the rest of his family... #Rip #RockyJohnson."
Johnson made a name for himself after breaking barriers in professional wrestling. He became National Wrestling Alliance Georgia Champion and NWA Southern Heavyweight Memphis Champion during his career, and he won several other titles.
He partnered with Tony Atlas to form the first African American tag team, The Soul Patrol to win the World Tag Team Championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Throughout his career, Johnson formed memorable rivalries with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis. However, one of his biggest moments came on Nov. 15, 1983, when the Soul Patrol defeated the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) to claim the Tag Team Championship.
Johnson retired from professional wrestling in 1991, but he was not finished making an impact on the world of sports-entertainment. He and Pat Patterson worked together to train his son, Dwayne, to wrestle, which paved the way for the creation of The Rock. Johnson was also instrumental in getting his son signed to a WWF developmental deal. He even appeared on camera during a match against the Sultan and the Iron Sheik in WrestleMania 13.
This character played by his son would go on to become one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. Although Dwayne has enjoyed even more success as an actor and entertainer.
Johnson achieved the highest honor in professional wrestling when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. His son enshrined him in the Hallowed Halls and forever guaranteed that he would be remembered as one of the biggest stars in sports-entertainment.
(Photo Credit: Getty)